Waiting for "The Call"

“Honey, it’s always crap. Every book I write is crap. It’s my job to fix the crap afterwards,” according to Nora Roberts. Well, I've got it half right. Still working on the "fixing it" part. "Trust your characters to be complex enough and to have enough emotional baggage. Force them to make hard choices." Advice from Michelle Styles that might help!

Rewrites and backstory February 5, 2011

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 11:45 pm
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I’m just about ready to start on my rewrites of Cady and Lock’s story. This is the story aimed that SuperRomance that I had a rejection for in December. Megan wrote-

“the plot relies too heavily on external forces and secondary characters to bring Cady and Lock together.
Everything that happens comes about because of actions taken by other people, not from any decision made by the hero and heroine. For this story to be successful, we’d need to see the characters be more proactive in their lives and their relationship instead of simply reacting to the other people around them.”

So I looked at ways to make the characters more goal driven, more proactive, and give them far higher stakes. I’ve spent the past week planning the story, trying to get good strong conflicts and character arcs.

The good news is, I think I have a handle on it. I feel like I really know the characters now. I hope I’ve made their conflict strong and believable. Apart from the inciting incident not externally driven at all. Cady and Lock are the ones making things happen. The structure seems solid. I have a plan that it virtually a synopsis, focused on their emotional growth and change and how this affects the relationship, not just a list of what happens.

The bad news is, there’s very little in the original first draft I can use. It was all discovery draft.

 *sigh* This is going to be a long process.

It feels as if I’m really starting from scratch again, except I’m not. I know the characters well, I know their backstories, I know why and how they hook into each other’s deepest internal issues. I know the things that get in the way of them having a relationship. I just hope I can write it!

Thinking of backstory, I read this excellent article today, especially relevent for me as my first draft is just loaded with backstory in internal monologue. One of the hazards of knowing my characters well, and them having a history together, which I know has to get the chop. I hope I’ll be brave enough to use his method to eradicate any remaining infodump when I edit up the next draft!

Presuppositions

One of the biggest problems I see in fiction manuscripts is a big glop of backstory in the first two or three chapters of the novel.

Every novelist who has ever committed this sin justifies himself by claiming that the backstory is necessary because otherwise the reader won’t know what’s going on.

This isn’t true. Readers don’t read your novel for your marvelous backstory. They read it to get immersed in your main story. Once you get them hooked on the story, they’ll begin to get interested in the backstory and u can start feeding it to them in small doses.

You may be thinking, “That’s great advice for everybody else, but I’m different. My story is different. My readers HAVE to know my backstory.”

The answer is yes, but.

Yes, you’re different. Yes, your story is different.

But your reader really doesn’t care that 35 years ago your main character Luke got beat up every day in kindergarten.

Your reader cares that RIGHT NOW Luke is peering through the sights of a sniper rifle. Which happens to be trained on the head of the state governor. Who happens to be 40 years old. Who happens to be a bully. Who happens to have gone to kindergarten with Luke.

NOW your reader cares just a wee bit about what happened way back when. But your reader still cares a whole lot more about Luke’s trigger finger than about his horrible childhood.

It’s true that your reader is going to need to know a little about your backstory. How do you provide that without losing momentum in your frontstory?

One way to do that is by inserting “presuppositions” into your sentences.

And just what exactly is a “presupposition?”

Loosely speaking, a presupposition is a statement that is implied by a sentence. If the cop asks, “Have you quit beating your wife?” there’s a presupposition that in the past you beat your wife.

A classic example of how presuppositions work in language is the following sentence, which Bertrand Russell analyzed many years ago:

“The present King of France is bald.”

Is the above sentence true or false?

Since France is a republic, there is no present King of France, so the sentence can hardly be true.

But is it false? If it were false, would it be true that the present King of France has a full head of hair?

Obviously not. Russell pointed out that this sentence carries along with it some unspoken presuppositions:
* France has at least one king
* France has no more than one king

When you say that the King of France is bald, you are also implicitly asserting these presuppositions, and the combination of the three statements is false because they aren’t all true.

Some people would say that it’s simply meaningless to say “The present King of France is bald.”

But if you were watching a movie set in 1753 France, and if one of the actors said, “The King of France is bald,” everybody would know exactly what he meant.

Context matters. Presuppositions imply context. And another word for “context” is “backstory.”

Now here’s the point for fiction writers. Many of the sentences you write in your novel carry along with them certain presuppositions. When your reader reads your work, she unconsciously analyzes those presuppositions and makes conclusions about your Storyworld and the backstories of your characters.

When Han Solo brags about his ship in the original STAR WARS movie, for example, he says, “You’ve never heard of the Millennium Falcon? It’s the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs.”

Here are some presuppositions which are implicit in this line:
* The Millennium Falcon is famous
* The Kessel Run is long or treacherous or both
* A parsec is a unit of time
* Twelve parsecs is an excellent time for the Kessel Run

Notice that these presuppositions may be false (parsecs are units of distance) but they still tell us something about Han Solo and the world he lives in. Solo is not only egotistical, but he’s also sloppy in his use of language.

Writers constantly try to explain too much. This is true for the greenest novices and the most advanced experts, and it provides unending employment for editors, who earn their keep by scrawling “Resist the Urge to Explain” in the margins.

How do you fix things when you’re explaining too much?

The first step is to cut out the backstory. (Don’t throw it away. Save it to another document so you’ll have a record of it. Then delete it from your main story. Yes, all of it.)

The second step is to look for those places in your story that are now confusing to your reader because she lacks some essential context — some piece of backstory. Insert ONLY the fragment of backstory that your reader needs in order to make sense of the story.

One way to do that is to imply a chunk of backstory by rewriting a frontstory sentence so that it now contains a few well-chosen presuppositions.

Your reader is smart. When she reads a sentence that carries presuppositions, she immediately assumes these presuppositions are true and are part of your backstory. If she knows or learns that these presuppositions aren’t actually true, then she concludes that your character is unreliable.

We’ve already seen how George Lucas used a few presuppositions to characterize Han Solo. Let’s look at a couple of examples of how other writers have done it.

Here’s the beginning paragraph of a scene in ENDER’S GAME by Orson Scott Card, in which we meet Ender Wiggin:

The monitor lady smiled very nicely and tousled his hair and said, “Andrew, I suppose by now you’re just absolutely sick of that horrid monitor. Well I have good news for you. That monitor is going to come out today. We’re going to take it right out, and it won’t hurt a bit.”
This only makes sense if the following presuppositions are true:
* Ender is a fairly young boy
* He’s had a monitor installed for quite a long time
* The monitor is unpleasant to wear
* Ender has had some painful medical procedures before
* Monitors are managed by a bureaucracy

We can also deduce from all of these that the story is set in the future.

Card could have told us all those things and a whole lot more about the history of monitors and why they’re necessary and thereby slowed down the story. Instead, he let us figure out only what we need to know right now. With presuppositions.
Here’s an example from the opening two paragraphs of THE KEY TO REBECCA, by Ken Follett:

The last camel collapsed at noon.

It was the five-year-old white bull he had bought in Gialo, the youngest and strongest of the three beasts, and the least ill-tempered: he liked the animal as much as a man could like a camel, which is to say that he hated it only a little.
The first paragraph carries with it this presupposition:
* More than one camel has died already

The second paragraph has these presuppositions:
* The owner of the camel is a lone man
* He is no longer in Gialo
* He is familiar with camels

We can also deduce that the owner of the camel is making a long and dangerous journey across the desert. This isn’t a presupposition, but it follows pretty readily from the presuppositions and from the first sentence.

Presuppositions are useful because they let you say more with fewer words. That is a worthy goal for any novelist.
 
If you’d like to see some more examples of how presuppositions work, check out the Wikipedia article here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presuppositions

Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, “the Snowflake Guy,” publishes the Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 24,000 readers, every month. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit http://www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com.

Download your free Special Report on Tiger Marketing and get a free 5-Day Course in How To Publish a Novel.

Another blog I’ve been reading  a lot this week is one Janet commented about- Plot to Punctuation. I liked this series on Revising Character in particular, and his stuff on character arc is very good.

 

Characters- proactive or reactive? November 28, 2010

So, more thoughts on this editorial feedback that my characters need to be more proactive, less reactive, and that my plot relies too heavily on external forces.

I can see just what she means. The characters don’t appear to initiate any action, just react to what is happening. This makes them seem weak, and even worse, like puppets being pushed through the motions.

It’s interesting to me that I have this problem – and I surely do, I can see it not just in the rejected stories but in plenty of others! I thought this was something more of an issue for plot oriented writers, who start with a plot then make the characters fit it. But I always start with the characters, or at least one of them. I think the problem might be that I start with the characters all right, but I don’t have a strong enough sense of who they are initially until I have written a few chapters. By then I know them well enough to start over again with (hopefully!) a good grasp of their conflict and relationship issues. This all sounds good, and like it shouldn’t lead to cardboard cut out puppet characters.

In the meantime though, just to get started, I’ve come up with a clunky plot device to bring them together. Which wouldn’t be a problem if I ditched that when I ditched the first few chapters I wrote to get to know the characters, but I get attached to my set-ups and keep them in.

So for this story, I started with the image of Cady, my heroine, a single working mother having a very bad day that gets even worse when she is told her mother is seriously ill so she needs to go back to her small home town, where she’ll need to confront not just her estranged mother but Lock, the father of her son.  That was all I knew when I started writing. Ack, already writing that I can see how she is buffeted by the external issues. Yes, she decides how she will respond to them, but it’s all external, all  “stuff happening”. 

In a way though, thinking about it, that was part of my vision for Cady, that without her anchor of home and family she might be a business success and a good mum, but emotionally she’s adrift. That isn’t necessarily a problem, provided I establish her as a character and her motivations strongly enough that her mix of proactive in some arenas and reactive in others is understandable and sympathetic to the reader.

The main thing that makes a character proactive is a strong goal. I am clear what her goal is, to ensure the best life possible for her son, but obviously that’s not coming out enough. And it’s more of a passive type goal, in that she’s not really actively working towards that goal, though it is what motivates all her decisions.

I do think romances are moving towards stronger heroines generally, kicking back against the stereotype of the weak heroine in the thrall of the hero. Stories where the heroine’s action initiates the inciting incident are possibly more what the editors are looking for. My past stories have tended to the pattern of the hero erupting into the heroine’s life, not vice versa. Thinking of one of my CP Maisey Yates’ first two published stories, in both the heroine had a clearly defined goal and a plan to act on to reach her goal, that led her to seek out the hero. Seems like that (as well as her excellent writing and sizzling sexual tension!) may have helped her initial slushpile submission catch the editor’s eye.

Another problem is that the hero also is not proactive. By sticking with the plot device of her mother’s illness as the thing that brings them back together, neither of them has actively made a decision to make this happen. Lock has decided he’s ready to move on and is taking action towards that, but it’s periferal to what happens with the heroine. Then I add a coincidence on top of that- he finds out Cady has had his son because the boy has an accident and Cady is called about it, which conveniently happens just when he is in her office. So I have two characters will relatively passive goals which pretty much amount to just getting on with life, brought together again by external factors. Ick!

I decided yesterday to cut her mother’s illness, and cut the convenient coincidence of Josh’s accident. The initial plan was to retain both coincidences, but make Lock proactive. Lock sees Cady in a TV interview and decides to seek her out, as he’s ready to move on with his life. Still not good enough, coincidence 1 stays but coincidence 2 goes. Lock sees Cady in a TV interview about high flying career women who are single mothers, realises Josh is his son, and seeks her out, determined to get access to his child. Better. Probably even stronger if the coincidences could be dumped altogether and it starts with Lock seeking Cady out as he’s ready to move on, and in the process finding he has a son.

Now today I’m wondering if it’s even stronger if Cady is the instigator. Cady wants what’s best for her son, so she takes action and takes him home to Haven Bay. Or Cady wants to make amends, and seeks out Lock. It’s kind of less true to her character, as she’s protecting her shameful secret at all costs, and doing that seems a bit risky. She’d need a very powerful motivation to do that. Her son would need to be in trouble, or ill.

I just realised something. Interestingly, I added both those coincidences in the second draft. First draft had Cady finding out about her mother’s illness from someone else and deciding to go home with her son, then meeting Lock. I created the whole coincidence thing as a way to get them together, and still kept the original plot device of her mother’s illness. So now instead of the one I started with, I have three clunky plot devices.  Bang goes the theory about it being because of writing my way in. It was really because I was playing God with my characters!

*sigh* I’m getting the feeling I am doing it again. I’m trying to “make” then proactive.  Again, I’m manufacturing situations for them.

Will I ever get this right?

I need to start with my focus more on the emotional issues. What are their core conflicts? How would those issues drive the characters into action. That needs to be my starting point, not cooking up scenarios to bring them together.

Her goals are to create a good life for her son, and to keep her secret, two goals which are brought into opposition when she has to be around Lock again, for Josh’s sake. Lock’s goal is to move on with his life and forget Cady, which is complicated by him finding out he has a son he’s determined to be a good father to.

At least a third of my story, possibly more, is tied up in the elements I know now need to cut out. The bones of the story should remain the same, their core conflict, the black moment, and the resolution. I just have to find out who sets things in motion!

At least in my current story, the one I hope to sub for SoYou Think You Can Write, it’s the heroine who is actively making things happen, though her goal is a bit wishy-washy, she’s just doing her job, and that impacts on the hero.

I’ve made the same mistakes here, in terms of characters being passive responders to events rather than making things happen. 

Also, I don’t think I’ve nailed the conflict quite right yet- I’m concerned my heroine will seem TSTL for not wanting to stay with the hero, that she seems to have no real character arc until at the end the magic wand of lurve is waved and she changes completely. (And if any of my dirty-minded critique partners are reading this, no, not that magic wand, that one gets waved earlier!) OTOH, if I do it right I can show how she’s struggling with what she wants to do vs what she’s always done and feels she ought to do.

The other problem with this story is that the ending does rely on an external event that possibly puts the hero’s life in danger and makes the heroine rethink things. The answer to that is that the heroine has already changed her mind, decided to go back to him and tell him she will stay, then can’t do it because he is in this dangerous situation. She’s going to really suffer while she’s waiting to hear if he’s okay- because what if he dies thinking she didn’t love him enough to stay? But the external event can’t be what triggers her change, that’s got to be internally driven.

I’m a bit stumped what I should be writing now- do I work on fixing the rejected story, while I’m all fired up to do it, even though the plan I thought I had yesterday is shot to pieces; do I try to fix the story I want to sub to SYTYCW, which is riddled with problems; or do I start that new take on an old story idea that’s kinda Blaze-ish or Modern Heat-ish? The one where I figured out for myself last week that the problem with the original idea was that the heroine was being pushed around by circumstancesand just a victim, instead of her getting out there and being proactive.

Hoo boy. Now I need to be proactive and decide what to write!

Edited to add- or I can use this as an excuse for some internet surfing looking for more info on proactive characters. Here are a couple of links I found interesting- Camy Tang, and Janice Hardy. Also yet another book which I’ve ben thinking about buying and haven’t yet (in the past two weeks I already bought Save the Cat and Story, but they’re gonna be my Christmas present from the MiL, now I have to work out who’s going to buy me this one!)- Fiction Writing for Dummies.

 

Rejection November 27, 2010

Well, I got a rejection for the Superromance submission in the post today.

A not too bad, personalised R, which I really appreciate, but still an R.  I was kinda expecting that, even though obviously I hoped for something different. No real positives to take away from it, I’m afraid, not even the invitation to sub another story, which is more upsetting than the R.

Except yet again I have the chance to learn, and this time from some real live editorial feedback, so it’s not all bad. I would have been gutted to get a form R, but this I can work with.

She thought “the plot relies too heavily on external forces and secondary characters to bring Cady and Lock together. Everything that happens comes about because of actions taken by other people, not from any decision made by the hero and heroine. For this story to be successful, we’d need to see the characters be more proactive in their lives and their relationship instead of simply reacting to the other people around them.”

My initial response- Well, that’s not really how I saw it, though the set up is very based on external events- but aren’t all stories? It’s how the characters run with that that makes the story.

I had about 30 seconds of being weepy and sorry for myself and “But all stories are like that”, then I started thinking about it.

Second thought- light bulb moment- I think I see at least one thing I could change about Cady and Lock that would make the characters more proactive – or one of them, at least. I need to make a similar change in the story I’m writing now, it has exactly the same issue.

It still may not be enough to fix it though. The real problem is that my characters tend not to start with obvious goals that are in opposition. One may have a goal, they impact on the other’s life, but for one character their goal is usually just to keep their life the same. That’s always going to make them seem to be not proactive,  just reactive.  Actually, stories don’t start with an external factor, it only looks like they do. Stories start with one character’s goal impacting on another, and that’s the inciting event. So it can be totally internally driven, on that level. The problem with my story was neither character was working towards their own goals.

Arrgghhhh! All my stories are the same!

Anyway, I think I can see now several things that could make Cady and Lock’s story better. Drop her mother’s illness as the reason Lock seeks her out after so many years. Probably take out the whole subplot about her mother being ill- it’s just a fairly clunky plot device to give him the reason to contact her. It’s not needed, another complication to clutter things up. What that thread is really about is Cady repairing her broken relationship with her mother, which parallels her repairing her broken relationship with Lock.

Lock needs to instigate their meeting for his own reasons, not anyone else’s. I’m thinking seeing Cady on the television reignites his smouldering old feelings for her. Not the love, but the anger at how she ended things. He realises he’s put his life on hold waiting for her to come back to him, and it’s time to move on. (Their son needs to be a few years younger in that case, I don’t think he would have waited that long!) He seeks her out to demand answers to all those unanswered questions, then discovers she had his son and never told him.

Nah, still not there. Maybe that’s too coincidental too, I have two coincidences- he sees her on the TV, and then at the exact same time he is with her their son is injured so he finds out he has a son by accident. Not good enough. Those plot devices are clunking so loud, no one can hear the story. LOL, now I think about this, no wonder they rejected it!

The trigger needs to be him finding out he has a son after all these years. That’s the motivation strong enough to set the whole thing in motion, and at the most only needs one coincidence! I need to scrap everything in my partial and some significant chunks of my first draft, but the story will be better for it. I obviously tend to rely too much on plot devices and not enough on the character’s real goals and motivation.

The other thing I need to do is strip down to the real core of what the story is about and go deeper with that, rather than adding in other complications. The complications are often due to the plot devices I started off with anyway.  It’s a product of writing my way in- I don’t always know enough about the characters to start, so I use a plot device (like the sick mother in Cady and Lock) to get me started. Where I go wrong is leaving that in the future drafts!

So the heart of this story is Lock discovering he has a son with Cady, the woman he once intended to marry, growing up without a father. He experienced this himself when his own father abandoned him and his mother. No way is he going to be a deadbeat dad. He’s going to be part of his son’s life, whether Cady wants it or not. Cady doesn’t want to deny her son Josh the chance to know his father, but deciding to allow that threaten all she’s built her life on. She made the most painful decision of her life nine years before, when she chose to end her relationship with Lock rather than reveal a shameful secret. It’s time to set things right. Going home to Haven Bay for the summer means being around Lock, the man she betrayed, thinking it was best for him not to tell him the truth. It means seeing her estranged mother again. It means learning what it really means to be part of a family. It means taking the biggest risk of all- trusting in love.

Or something like that! The essence of the story is identical, all the other junk I hung off it is removed. The interesting thing will be seeing how much of my first draft is salvageable, and how much was clutter that needs to be pruned back to make more space to go deeper with the real story. Megan was so right in her comments on the partial- the characters aren’t focused enough, there’s a lot of clutter. Much of what is in the partial can be dropped without touching the core story at all. In fact, the three chapters, when it’s stripped back but taken deeper, become one. The end line of the revised chapter one will be the end line of chapter three in what I subbed!

Phew. It’s going to be an interesting rewrite. I’m looking forward to tackling it.

And now, I need to do the same with my WiP, the story for SYTYCW. Take off all the dangly jangly rings and bells and bangles, and find out what the naked essence is of the story I want to tell. All those extras and messy plot devices detract from the story, get in the way of emotional intensity.

Fun! I’m excited about this!

 

Long time no blog July 31, 2010

Filed under: What I'm reading,Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 10:41 pm
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It must be a month since I last did a blog post- not good!

I have plenty of excuses, a wedding away, planning the trip to Australia, work insanity, and a dead laptop.

Truth is, I got depressed at the big number birthday coming up soon and all I hadn’t done that was on my “Do before I’m 50 list.” I’m over that now and ready to make a new and exciting “Do before I’m 60” list, that I hope won’t be cause for depression in ten years time!

There has been movement, even if a snail would seem supersonic in comparision. The partial for Lock and Cady’s story is finally close to ready to send.

I need to get Lock and Cady out there so I can start a new Medical story I want to sub in August. I was so determined not to try a Medical, but there’s a medically themed story that’s been niggling at me for years. Every time the idea comes up again I add more to it, and it’s just about ready to write now! My concern was that it might not fit the line as my hero isn’t a doctor, so I was going to reduce the medical contect, play up the community aspect, and target it at Superromance instead. But the Medical editors are actively looking for new writers and are fast-tracking all submissions  made this month before August 24, anything from one chapter and a synopsis to a full. It’s worth a try, though I’m not sure even if I Medical-ise itas much as possible this story will fly as a Medical. Will have to see what the editors think! If I get moving, I cam do one chapter and a synopsis by August 24.

I’ve learned a lot about writing in the past couple of months that I hope I can put to good use in the rewrite and use in the final pass through my partial. I’ve been reading  “Manuscript Makeover: Revision Techniques No Fiction Writer Can Afford to Ignore a fab craft book  recommended by Michelle Styles. She is so right about it- possibly the best craft book I’ve read.

I treated myself to a read this week, which was an unexpected learning experience, too. Not something on my TBR list at all. I bought a dinky little mini-notebook to use when travelling instead of my PDA which was driving me mad with the tiny screen and keyboard. It’s perfect apart from one thing- it uses a weird Windows operating system that no ebook reader supports, not even Mobipocket which I used on the PDA. All I can read on it are ebooks in either pdf or html formats.

I did have some pdf ebooks, so I transferred them all over and opened one at random to see how it worked. Oh boy, I lucked out! The book was a Blaze, Leslie Kelly’s “Slow Hands”, one of the Harlequin free full-length romance downloads. I possibly wouldn’t have chosen to read the Blaze, though one of my crit group is writing one and hers is fabulously good. I can be just the teensiest bit of a prude, plus I started reading one years ago and the writing was so cringeworthy I didn’t get further than 3 pages. This was different.

Good writing that dragged me straight into the story. A lust-worthy and love-worthy hero. Hot hot sexxoring and plenty of it, but all safely vanilla, and so deeply anchored in emotion and real feeling. Beautiful handling of how the emotional attachment between hero and heroine grew, and the heroine’s emotional journey. A lesson in managing sub-plots so subtly the reader didn’t even realise they were sub-plots, they hooked into the main storyline so neatly. I was reading this book on two levels at once, devouring it like a reader, carried along by the story, but also looking at it as a workshop in how to write a darned good romance.

I strongly recommend this story, and as it’s free, how can you resist!

 

Long wait! July 11, 2010

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 10:21 pm
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I haven’t posted for a while, mainly because there hasn’t been much happening on the writing front. Lots of Day Job and Real Life getting in the way, sometimes in good ways like the wonderful weekend away in Devon dh and I had last week, but nowhere near  as much writing as I need.

I called the blog “Waiting for the Call”, well it’s going to be a flipping long wait the way I’m going!

I’m plugging on with the rewrite of Lock and Cady’s story, but still don’t have the partial together yet. Chapters One and Two came relatively easily, and I honestly think they are the best things I’ve ever written (that doesn’t mean I’m claiming they are good, but they most certainly are better than what I’ve done before). Chapter Three is like pulling teeth without anaesthetic- slow and painful. Plus it’s not even much good. It should be strong and powerful and emotional, instead it’s just- meh. Cliched body language, no real depth of feeling, it’s depressing me to the point of wanting to give up. I keep slogging on with it, but the slow rate is half the problem- at a couple of hundred words a day I’m not getting into the character enough to get the emotion that’s needed.

I’m setting up unrealistic expectations for what is really more first draft, of course, and that’s what’s wrecking my motivation to write. I need to give myself permission to write the dreckiest chapter ever,  as long as I get the story moving again. It can always be fixed.

Not that I’m completely unmotivated, but my motivation tends to be strongest when it’s hardest to write. Like one day last week coming home from work on the train. Yet again there were problems with the trains and as the earlier train was cancelled, my train had twice as many people on it was usual. Which meant standing up all the way, in my curved sole exercise shoes, trying to stay upright as the train swayed and I rocked crazily, unable to hold on because I was balancing my netbook in one hand while I typed with the other! Other days when I had a seat and could easily have typed, I read the paper instead.

Today, when I had time to write, I found other things far more urgent, like clearing out my wardrobe. No words written, though I do have some space in my wardrobe and a pile of clothes to sell on ebay. This was the toughest round of decluttering- the quality clothes or things I loved that just aren’t right for me any more. All the easy to let go of stuff went to the charity shop weeks ago. It’s good space clearing, but that’s not helping the story any.

Maybe the declutter will be good feng shui or something. Sure hope so. And I sure hope I don’t come up with more excuses and delaying tactics next day off work when I could write. The actual act of subbing is getting too close and too real and far too scary, so I’m procrastinating. Anything to avoid that long painful wait with the rejection at the end.

I think I named the blog well. I will always be waiting, until I find the guts to sub.

 

Fairy Dust? I want some of that! June 26, 2010

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 11:54 am
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One of my crit buddies Robyn has a don’t-miss post on the nature of inspiration over on the Seven Sassy Sisters blog today. Where do those magical, out-of-nowhere ideas come from?

Her Fairy Dust angel has to be seen to be believed…

I had my own fairy dust moment this week (missed seeing the angel, unfortunately!) while struggling with the synopsis for Marrying Ms Wright. One key thing that will hopefully fix my worst plot holes and “characters acting out of character” problems from the first draft.

Yippee! Hope it works!

 

More like a crawl than baby steps! June 14, 2010

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 9:28 pm
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The editing is progressing, but oh so slowly! Far more like a snail crawl than baby steps. Definitely not a baby crawl, kids scoot around on their hands and knees or bums much faster than I can keep up with.

Chapter two is finished, though no doubt will need some tweaking. I’ve already gone back and tweaked a few things since I posted a version on my crit group not that long ago for comment. The Sisters usually come back with some good suggestions, and as I do those I see other things that can be improved, and so it goes.

I do need to get moving though. I set myself a subbing date of June 20. Scarily, that’s less than a week away. So I need to write and polish chapter three, which like chapters one and two is all new, do a synopsis, write a cover letter, and get it in the post by next Monday. Easy peasy, right?

Not!

The cover letter should be okay, I know what I want to say and I already have a halfway decent pitch. Writing the chapter shouldn’t be too bad, it will just take time and focus, I know what needs to happen and where the characters need to be by the end of the chapter. The synopsis will be bloody awful, no doubt.

The first synopsis I did, for the Instant Seduction comp, dashed off in a couple of hours, came back with the comment “Good synopsis” written on it. I thought I’d done even better with my synopsis for last years Harlequin comp, I worked hard on it, was proud of it, but turned out it stank worse than a footballer’s kit bag after the big game.  So that might need special attention.

Gotta remember- focus on the emotional turning points, and not “what happens”! Also, play up the elements that make this story a fit for Superromance.

I can do it!